(NaturalNews) He had many of his fans believing in him, rooting for him, pulling for him.
But it seems he never completely convinced sports authorities of his alleged "superman" status.
An investigation into seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has found that he was atop the largest doping conspiracy in the history not just of cycling but of all sports - findings which have ruined both his reputation and legacy. His cancer survival, touted as heroic given his accomplishments, will forever be mentioned in the sports history books with an asterisk beside it.
The revelations came in a 202-page indictment by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which charged Armstrong in early October of six offenses regarding the use of banned substances, drug trafficking, administering drugs to teammates and aiding and abetting a monstrous cover-up between 1998 and 2005 - a period when he dominated the globally famous race.
The findings have had a dramatic impact not just on his millions of fans but on the cycling world itself. Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director and who was key to Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the race this year, said he was stunned to read the USADA findings.
"It is shocking, it's jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant," Brailsford.
A cocktail of banned substances
Shocking, indeed. So, too, is the witness list.
A total of 26 people, including 11 fellow cyclists from his U.S. Postal Service team, gave testimony to the USADA against Armstrong in a case the agency described as "more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history."
The findings have recently been sent to the International Cycling Union, which will have three weeks to refute the findings and appeal to the World Anti-Doping Agency, or just comply with a previous USADA decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles. In a statement earlier this month, the UCI said it would supply a "timely" response.
The findings are the result of a two-year investigation. The agency accused Armstrong "of using a cocktail of banned substances and blood transfusions," Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported.
Between investigative findings and testimony, the agency painted the picture of an elaborate doping ring which alleged involvement of fellow riders, support staff and even Armstrong's former wife. The doping program itself, said the agency, was the concoction of Michele Ferrari, a disgraced Italian doctor. Armstrong would travel across Europe before and during races to have his blood transfusions.
The agency's report also accused the cyclist of administering testosterone to a teammate, as well as threatening to get rid of fellow teammates if they did not follow Ferrari's program. The USADA also said Armstrong surrounded himself with drug runners "so that he could achieve his goal of winning the Tour de France year after year."
The report said there was a "code of silence" throughout cycling as Armstrong intimidated potential whistleblowers. The lengthy report referenced financial records, emails and laboratory test results which the agency believes indicates years' worth of doping.
'Massive and long-running scheme'
"The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs to evade detection and to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices," said the agency's report. "A program -organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today."
Not surprisingly, an unnamed spokesman for Armstrong refuted the agency's findings, the Telegraph said.
But the report went on to say that Armstrong would receive blood transfusions in the team doctor's hotel room, until French police tightened security. Then, Armstrong employed, in essence, a drug runner to deliver EPO, or Erythropoietin, which increase the number of red blood cells in the body (red blood cells transport oxygen to the tissues).
"Lance Armstrong and his handlers engaged in a massive and long-running scheme to use drugs, cover their tracks, intimidate witnesses, tarnish reputations, lie to hearing panels and the press and do whatever was necessary to conceal the truth," said the agency.
In September, Armstrong decided to avoid arbitration with the USADA to answer charges of doping. The agency, in response, stripped him then of his titles.